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Ottawa Students Empower Peers to Talk about Mental Health

CHEO’S YouthNet presents its 2nd Annual HeadStrong Summit

April 8, 2016, Ottawa, Ontario – CHEO’s YouthNet RéseauAdo is inspiring fellow students to build and maintain wellness within their communities at the YouthNet mental health summit, HeadStrong. On Monday, April 11, 150 high school students and teachers will gather at the Confederation Education Centre to learn effective ways to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and promote wellness among the student bodies at their respective high schools.

Since last year’s summit 25 youth clubs have been formed. These clubs meet at YouthNet monthly for team meetings, and host their own monthly in-school interactions to promote wellness. Additionally, an Ottawa-wide action plan for 2015-2016 was created by 12 school groups who met over the summer during a two day leadership retreat hosted at YouthNet.

"For me being at the summit last year was a big step forward to start helping educate people and myself about mental health, and how to help end the stigma,” says Sarah Shahin, a Youth Headstrong Team member. “By being a part of the organization team, it's something special for me because now I get to help educate the next generation of students on how they can reduce the stigma in our schools.”

YouthNet is hosting this summit as part of the Canada-wide HeadStrong initiative. According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), last year more than 4,400 young people committed to creating positive change at 3 provincial events and 25 regional summits. MHCC research shows that nearly 60% of people with a mental illness under the age of 25 have experienced the impact of stigma.

The day-long summit aims to educate participants on wellness while building connections between youth, schools, and communities to reduce negative attitudes towards mental illness. The summit will act as a launching pad to help participants develop mental health advocacy groups within their own schools.

YouthNet RéseauAdo Ottawa is CHEO’s bilingual regional mental health promotion and intervention program run by youth, for youth. YouthNet can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @CHEOyouthnet. For more information, go to, or contact Taylor Linseman at

About CHEO

The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) is Canada’s capital pediatric hospital and helps over 500,000 children and youth each year. CHEO has more than 2,500 doctors, nurses and staff dedicated to providing the best possible care for the children and youth of Eastern Ontario, Western Quebec, Nunavut and parts of Northern Ontario.

CHEO works closely with the University of Ottawa as a teaching hospital and fosters groundbreaking research through the CHEO Research Institute. CHEO’s vision is to change young lives in our community, while our innovation changes young lives around the world.


For more information, please contact:

Eva Schacherl
Communications Manager and Strategist, CHEO
Cell: 613-769-5553

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